In their games against Stamford on Wednesday night, the Ridgefield High boys and girls basketball teams followed a similar route: Build a lead and then withstand a fourth-quarter rally.
The end result was a pair of four-point victories.
Playing on the road at Stamford High, the RHS girls defeated the reigning conference and Class LL state champion Black Knights, 43-39. At Ridgefield High, meanwhile, the host Tigers edged Stamford, 48-44.
Despite scoring just one basket in the final quarter — and struggling from the foul line throughout the game — the Ridgefield girls were able to hand Stamford its first loss this season.
By forcing turnovers and breaking the Black Knights’ press, Ridgefield led 14-8 at the end of the opening quarter and 27-17 at halftime. The lead could have been much bigger had the Tigers not missed 11 of their 18 free throws during the first two periods.
An even third quarter — each team scored eight points — left Ridgefield ahead, 35-27, entering the final eight minutes. Stamford made a late charge, getting as close as two points, before the Tigers sank some late free throws to preserve the victory.
Meaghan O’Hara and Caroline Curnal each finished with 11 points for Ridgefield, which is now 5-1 overall. Elizabeth Middlebrook added seven points and Julia Middlebrook had six points, while Grace Goodwin and Claire Middlebrook contributed four points apiece.
In Ridgefield, the RHS boys hoop team used a strong first quarter to build a 15-6 lead over Stamford. The Tigers stretched their advantage to 29-18 at the half and 38-30 through three quarters.
Stamford went on a 9-4 run to trim Ridgefield’s lead to 42-39 with four minutes to play before Brenden McNamara snared an offensive rebound and converted a second-chance basket to put the Tigers in front 44-39.
Chris Longo then drove down the middle for a layup and was fouled. Longo hit the free throw to give Ridgefield a 47-39 lead with three minutes left.
Stamford responded with five straight points, but McNamara made a free throw and the Tigers held the visitors scoreless in the final two minutes to earn their fourth consecutive triumph.
“We were not sharp tonight. We did not execute tonight,” said Ridgefield head coach Andrew McClellan. “Part of our deal right now is trying to play the right way … all the time. And we’re having lapses of concentration, organization, discipline. Not lack of effort; I mean, the effort is there. Tons of toughness, tons of grittiness.
“In a game where I thought we had very little attention to detail — a tough gritty win,” continued McClellan. “Any time you beat Stamford we’ll take it. That was not one of our best performances, but clearly a lot of effort and a lot of toughness by our kids.”
McNamara led Ridgefield with 17 points (10 in the second half) and 15 rebounds.
Longo added 11 points for the Tigers, who improved their record to 4-2.
Zach Esemplare and James St. Pierre each finished with five points, while Joe Newborn had four points and Nick Laudati and Alex Price added three points apiece.
Press Sports Reporter Rich Kaufman contributed reporting to this story.